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Latimer Looks To New Government And Supreme Court To Clear Him

IREGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--Robert Latimer this week told reporters that he and his supporters are renewing their push for a third trial -- with the hope that a newly elected federal government and a new member on Canada's Supreme Court will overturn his murder conviction for killing his daughter, Tracy.

"What I did was the right thing and I think a decent jury can understand that," he told the Canadian Press Wednesday.

"New judge, new justice minister," Latimer said. "The new government says there is going to be accountability so here we go, let's have some."

Latimer admitted killing 12-year-old Tracy, who had cerebral palsy and mental retardation, in October 1993. He said he deliberately pumped fuel exhaust into the cab of his pickup where Tracy lay -- as he sat in the pickup bed watching her die -- to end her "suffering" from her disabilities.

Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own stress. Some people who knew Tracy said that even though the girl did not speak, she let them know how much she loved people and enjoyed life. Others have pointed out that when Tracy died she was scheduled to undergo pain-relieving hip surgery a few days later.

Latimer was found guilty of second-degree murder in two separate trials. His most recent conviction was upheld by both the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled unanimously in January 2001 that Latimer was to spend at least 10 years of a life sentence behind bars. He will be eligible for parole in December 2007.

Members of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who have pushed for Latimer's release, said they would try speaking to the "new ears" in the government.

For more than a decade, the Latimer case has been the focus of attention for disability rights advocates who see it as one of countless examples that society in general does not think the lives of people with disabilities are important -- and that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".

Laurie Beachell, coordinator of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, told the Canadian Press Wednesday: "Our view is that to serve a lesser sentence is to devalue the lives of persons with disabilities and to put other persons' lives at risk."

University of Alberta psychology professor Dick Sobsey has noted that Canada experienced a marked increase in the incidence of "altruistic filicide" -- the killing of a child out of a belief that death is in the child's best interest -- in the years immediately following Tracy's murder.


"Latimer hopes new government will give him clarity he seeks on his case" (Canadian Press)
"Latimer's plea from behind bars: 'I want a new trial'" (CBC News)

"Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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